Tyus Battle scores 32 as Syracuse upset Duke Blue Devils

Monday night’s game plan went out the window early, and Duke’s grasp on the No. 1 ranking likely went with it, as the Blue Devils fell 95-91 in overtime to Syracuse, their first loss at home as the nation’s top-ranked team since 2006.

Duke had been 104-0 at Cameron Indoor Stadium as the No. 1-ranked team against everyone other than rival North Carolina, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

All it took to end the streak were health issues for two Duke starters, a 0-for-10 night from one of their replacements and a first-half buzzer-beater by Syracuse from more than three-quarters court. That, Zion Williamson said, was a recipe for disaster.

“When that shot went in,” Williamson said of Elijah Hughes’ remarkable 3-pointer at the halftime horn, “it just showed what kind of night it was for them. It seemed like everything they threw up was just bottom of the net. They just hit a lot of shots.”

Williamson set a Duke freshman record with 35 points in the game, but he was forced to play nearly the entirety of the overtime affair and looked drained by the end.

Forward Cam Reddish missed the game with an illness, and point guard Tre Jones left with a severe right shoulder injury early in the first half — and from there, nothing seemed to go right for the Blue Devils.

Jones was diagnosed with an AC joint separation and is out indefinitely.

“The game plan was to have Tre Jones and Cameron Reddish,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “When you get two guys hurt, there is no game plan anymore. It’s a period of adjustment. You’re trying to find ways to win.”

For Duke, that was largely about launching 3-pointers. The Blue Devils shot 43 times from beyond the arc, but just nine fell.

RJ Barrett, in particular, struggled badly from the 3 lines, hitting 4-of-17 in the game. At one critical stretch in the second half, Barrett was 0-for-10 from the field as an eight-point Duke lead evaporated.

Jones had four steals in six minutes of action, and Syracuse was just 1-of-7 shooting with him on the court. That all changed after the injury. Krzyzewski said Jones could be “out for a while.”

Jack White replaced Reddish in the starting lineup and was 0-for-10 from the field. Krzyzewski was unsure whether Reddish would return in time for Duke’s next game — Saturday at home against No. 4 Virginia. He said Reddish was suffering from “flu-like” symptoms.

“There is no game plan once those things happen,” Krzyzewski said. “You’re trying to survive.”

The loss was still a stunner, as Syracuse (12-5) was coming off a blowout defeat at home to Georgia Tech. But with Jones out, the Orange’s Frank Howard and Tyus Battle were able to combine for 48 points, and Paschal Chukwu had 18 rebounds while battling Williamson in the paint.

The loss likely knocks Duke (14-2) out of the top spot in the rankings, but more concerning is the potential absence of Jones for any length of time.

“We need those two guys,” Barrett said of Jones and Reddish. “Next two guys got to step up, but we came up short today.”

The Blue Devils are just the fifth AP No. 1 team to lose at home to an unranked team in the past 10 seasons.

North Carolina has beaten a top-ranked Duke team three times at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim improved to 3-2 in road games against AP No. 1 teams. That ties Gary Williams (3-11) for the most road victories versus No. 1 teams. The only other coach who has played at least two road games against No. 1 teams and has a winning record is Rollie Massimino (2-1).

Peace,

Burke

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